Colour therapy

Written by Emily Whitton
Emily Whitton
Therapy Directory Content Team

Last updated 15th November 2023 | Next update due 14th November 2026

Have you ever wondered how colour influences our feelings? Not only can colour alter our mood, but it could also be a powerful tool for our physical well-being. 

Here, we explore what colour therapy is, including how it works and the benefits that different colours bring when it comes to wellness. 

What is colour therapy? 

Colour therapy is also known as chromotherapy. It uses colour and light to treat mental health conditions and support well-being. It is a holistic therapy, meaning it focuses on the individual as a whole.

How does it work?

Science teaches us that when light hits an object, the object will reflect some of that light and absorb the rest. Some objects reflect more of a certain wavelength than others, which is why we see a certain colour. Something that absorbs all light appears black, whilst something that reflects all light appears white. 

Colour is light of varying wavelengths. It is these wavelengths that are important in colour therapy as each colour has its own energy. This energy is key in helping to balance the chakras (energy centres) in the body. There are seven chakras which correlate to the seven colours of the spectrum. The use of colours is thought to impact people’s energy and their health. 

Colour therapy is different to colour psychology – the study of how colours can influence human behaviour. Instead, colour therapy focuses on how specific colours can change a person’s energy. 

The history of colour therapy 

Colour therapy has been used for thousands of years. It can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, who placed coloured glass in rooms filled with sunlight for therapeutic purposes. The theory, as we know it today, was coined by Isaac Newton in the 1670s. He proved that white light was made up of a spectrum of colours, using a prism. This explained how rainbows form. 

Newton also went on to discover that the sequence of colours never changes: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. We now know that there are more than seven colours in the rainbow – it is, rather, a mixture of hues – but the basis of colour therapy remains unchanged. 

Using colours to boost wellbeing

Looking at the spectrum of colour, individual energies can have different effects. It’s thought that warmer colours, like red, are more stimulating, whilst cooler colours, such as violet, have more calming effects. 

Colour therapy is an amazing frequency and vibrational medicine tool that seeks to bring the body back to balance using colour light and sound. Each treatment is completely bespoke for each individual and what they are seeking to heal, be it physical mental or emotional.  

Therapy Directory member Pam Burn - B A Hons. PGCE (Dist) (Colour Energy Works)

Let’s take a look at these colours and their benefits more closely:

What colours are therapeutic? 

  • Red: Thought to stimulate energy, the colour red is invigorating. It’s often used to increase energy in people who are experiencing tiredness. It’s also the colour most used to increase overall vitality
  • Blue: Blue is thought to be a very soothing colour. It’s therefore believed to be the most effective at relieving stress, headaches, inflammation, pain, depression and insomnia. 
  • Orange: The colour orange can be used to spark happy emotions, increase appetite and stimulate mental activity. 
  • Yellow: Similarly to orange, yellow shades are thought to lift mood and increase optimism. This makes it beneficial in supporting those with anxiety. 
  • Green: As green is the colour of nature, it’s thought to be the most calming – making it ideal for reducing stress and increasing relaxation. It’s also thought to have healing properties as it signifies growth and harmony. 

Methods used in colour therapy 

There are two specific techniques used in chromotherapy. These are sight and reflection. Practitioners of colour therapy believe that light can enter into our bodies through our eyes and skin. 

  • Sight. This technique simply involves the client looking at a specific colour in the hope that this will have the desired effect. 
  • Reflection. The second technique involved reflecting a colour onto parts of the body, so that the colour is absorbed by the skin. 

The limitations of colour therapy 

It’s important to note that chromotherapy is not scientifically backed as an effective treatment for mental health or physical conditions. There is no evidence to suggest that colours have a direct effect on health. It is seen as a type of complementary therapy, meaning it should be used alongside treatments recommended by health professionals, rather than as a standalone therapy. However, studies into how the body responds to colour still continue. 

Working with a colour therapist 

It’s recommended to work with a professional colour therapist, as some stimulating colours may actually exacerbate symptoms if used incorrectly. Your practitioner will usually start by evaluating how you’re feeling and what you’d like to get out of the session. They will identify any blocked chakras in the body and source the relevant colours to try and rebalance these energies. 

Your practitioner may ask you to simply look at colours or they will reflect them onto parts of your body. A combination of the two techniques may also be used. As colour therapy is a holistic treatment, it’s often used alongside other complementary therapies, such as Reiki and crystal healing

If you’d like to know more about colour therapy and what can be expected in a session, we recommend reaching out to a practitioner directly to discuss the individual’s way of working. 

Useful resources:

Search for a therapist
Would you like to provide feedback on our content?
Tell us what you think

Please note we are unable to provide any personal advice via this feedback form. If you do require further information or advice, please search for a professional to contact them directly.

You appear to have an ad blocker enabled. This can cause issues with our spam prevention tool. If you experience problems, please try disabling the ad blocker until you have submitted the form.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA, the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Find a colour therapist


All therapists are verified professionals

All therapists are verified professionals